The first time I saw a video ad on Facebook, it tricked me. It started playing in my mobile newsfeed and I watched several seconds of it before realizing it was a Capital One-sponsored video. I felt duped. Then the media strategist in me kicked in, and I began to recognize the genius of it.
How was I fooled into thinking this was content from one of my friends for those few seconds? Facebook got me with native advertising. Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows along with the natural function of the user experience. Facebook and other social media sites have been using this method for some time with static news feed ads and sponsored posts, but just recently they have added video into the mix.
The new ad format seems to be working well for advertisers. Nielsen recently completed a study for Jarritos (a naturally flavored soft drink brand), and native video ads generated 82% brand lift among users exposed to the ads. In comparison, pre-roll units for the campaign only generated 2% brand lift.
Advertisers are vying for a piece of this brand lift pie. According to a Media Post report, native advertising is expected to boom in the coming years. In 2013, $1.8 billion was spent in native advertising. Come 2018, that number is expected to increase to $9.4 billion. Native social video advertising specifically is expected to increase to $7.7 billion in 2015, according to eMarketer, but it’s still too early to tell what each social network’s share will be. While Facebook launched video advertising in March of last year, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr just jumped on the native video bandwagon in the fourth quarter. The video ads are generally purchased on a cost-per-view basis; either upon initiation or completion for press-to-play ads, or after a set number of seconds for auto-play ads.
While each platform is taking a slightly different approach to the new ad format, all of them are united in the idea that these video ads need to stay true to the spirit of each site’s community. In most cases, the most successful ads are not just repurposed TV spots. They are relevant and attention-grabbing, but at the same time they respect the delicate balance of intrusive versus effective.
For example, Hewlett-Packard created a Vine video for their #BendTheRules campaign that was used across multiple social media platforms. Because it’s a Vine format, it fit right in with the flow and achieved the ever-important perception of personalization.
Another example that caught my eye was an ad for New York Fashion Week. Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, a photographer and producer duo, created cinemagraphs for the campaign. These cinemagraphs utilize the social media video advertising offering with simple .gifs. The isolated movement is unique and memorable.
It should be exciting to see what other brands come up with as native video ads take over social media in 2015.